Advanced Search

Learn About The Holocaust

Special Collections

My Saved Research




Skip to main content

Oswald R. Holocaust testimony (HVT-1834) interviewed by Dina Choshen and Raphael Rozner,

Oral History | Fortunoff Collection ID: HVT-1834

Videotape testimony of Oswald R., who was born in a Polish village near Żywiec in 1922, the older of two brothers. He recalls learning German; attending a local school; cordial relations with non-Jews; being sent to live with an aunt in Bielsko-Biała to attend a better school; graduating from high school; moving with his family to Żywiec; participating in Akiba; fleeing toward Kraków during the German invasion; his parents returning home (he never saw them again), but sending him and his brother away from German-occupied areas; finding an Akiba group in Lʹviv; his assignment smuggling others to Lithuania with the goal of emigration to Palestine; arrest by the Soviet NKVD; release; traveling to Vilnius; finding an Akiba unit; assistance from the Joint; working as a shoemaker; his brother's emigration to Palestine; Soviet occupation; German invasion; fleeing with Soviet soldiers; returning to Vilnius; arrest; forced labor in a shoe factory; escaping; removing his star; encountering a German soldier who discussed participating in a mass killing of Jews; staying with a Polish farmer for two months; the farmer sending him to hide with relatives in a forest village; bringing food to friends in a nearby labor camp; traveling to the Naliboki Forest; posing as a non-Jew; living briefly in Turėts, working as a school janitor; witnessing the distribution of clothing taken from Jews killed in a mass shooting; translating for the locals when Germans came; and the head of the local police taking him to Mir as a translator.
Mr. R. recounts assignment to the mayor and police; receiving an SS uniform and guns; communicating with Jews and the Judenrat in the ghetto; witnessing shootings of Jews in several locations, and of Soviets in Bol'shiye Zhukhovichi; learning the remaining Jews in Mir were to be killed; advising them to escape; smuggling weapons to them; providing false information to the Germans so they would leave Mir on the night of the planned escape; his arrest after the Mir escape; his escape; entering a convent; the nuns hiding him; reading their religious materials; developing a belief in Christ; the nuns baptizing him; learning to knit so he could contribute to the convent; leaving after fourteen months in order not to endanger the nuns; joining partisans in Rubi︠a︡z︠h︡ėvichy after Jews he knew vouched for him; contacts with the Bielski brigade; liberation by Soviet troops in Ivi︠a︡nets in August 1944; briefly working for NKVD in Baranavichy; the nuns in Mir providing a reference for him to enter a monastery; traveling to Vilnius, then Naujoji Vilnia; training as a priest in a Carmelite monastery in Kraków; and emigration to Israel in 1959.

R., Oswald, 1922-1998.
Ramat Aviv, Israel : Beth Hatefutsoth, Nahum Goldman Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, 1987
Interview Date
January 29, March 26, and May 26, 1987.
Bielsko-Biała (Poland)
Żywiec (Poland)
Lʹviv (Ukraine)
Vilnius (Lithuania)
Naliboki Forest (Belarus)
Turėts (Hrodzenskai︠a︡ voblastsʹ, Belarus)
Mir (Belarus)
Bol'shiye Zhukhovichi (Belarus)
Rubi︠a︡z︠h︡ėvichy (Belarus)
Ivi︠a︡nets (Belarus)
Baranavichy (Belarus)
Naujoji Vilnia (Vilnius, Lithuania)
Kraków (Poland)
2 copies: 3/4 in. dub; and 1/2 in. VHS with time coding.
Cite As
Oswald R. Holocaust Testimony (HVT-1834). Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, Yale University Library.
View in Yale University Library Catalog:
Record last modified: 2019-05-09 14:29:00
This page: